by Jason Koenigsberg
Imagine you are sitting in the middle of a preschool classroom surrounded by twenty plus 4 year olds, all banging pots and pan and their toys and screaming for 2 hours and 45 minutes. That is exactly the noisy and overall mind numbing experience that is Transformers: Age of Extinction. I enjoyed the previous three Transformer films, however this time it is as if nobody edited the film down and they just let Michael Bay run wild with his already ridiculously huge budget of almost two hundred million dollars and nobody was there to say no to him, so Bay throws just about everything he can at the audience plus the kitchen sink.
The story centers around Mark Wahlberg as a blue collar Texas mechanic who scraps metal and uses the parts to build things that seem more fitting to belong in J.F. Sebastian’s apartment in Blade Runner (1982). He takes a huge beat up truck back to his workshop/barn and discovers that it is a transformer, but not any transformer, it’s Optimus Prime, whom a branch of the CIA, led by a smug and evil Kelsey Grammar (one of the films few decent human performances) want to find and destroy. They are secretly working for an evil group of transformers that want to hunt down all of the remaining autobots and decepticons on earth and have a particular interest in Optimus Prime and taking him back to the galaxy he was created.
There is also a subplot about Wahlberg’s sexpot daughter (Nicola Peltz) not being allowed to date and her secret boyfriend (Jack Reynor) who is of course a race-car driver so that helps conveniently push the plot along and they throw in a bunch of lines from Wahlberg as the concerned dad who does not want his daughter to date anybody. Folks this makes the Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler forbidden romance in Armageddon look great. The only thing that makes those scenes bearable is that the actors are all very good looking so they are all just some extra eye candy in between the visual effects eye candy. Michael Bay does know how to pick attractive people, after all he is the director who made Megan Fox a star only to replace her in the third Transformers with the even younger and hotter Rosie Huntington-Whitely.
The only commendable part of this Transformers :Age of Extinction is its visual effects. The cinematography is clear with vibrant colors that compliment the action and effects. The transformers and their fights look great and the action will satisfy most fans looking for an awesome summer blockbuster. The fight scenes work great on their own, however at almost three hours they get so mind numbing you will probably get bored sitting there and watching the same action over and over. This film could have been edited down more and built with a greater sense of urgency. That would have resulted in a better film. Also, Michael Bay loves slow motion and uses it way too much here. There is a moment where Mark Wahlberg bangs the ground in an act of frustration, but because it is shot in slow motion it becomes unintentionally laughable.
That was not an exaggeration about the films running time in the first paragraph. It is 165 minutes and even with all the action and excitement thrown into your face, when I asked my friend what he thought as we were walking out of the theater his only reply was, “my butt hurts”. So it succeeds on two levels, a mind numbing AND butt numbing experience. In fact the only one of your senses that will be pleased are your eyes. The special effects are spectacular as one would expect especially a fantastic scene with our heroes crawling on metal cables high above the Chicago skyline avoiding evil robots and the transformers battle near the end with the dino-bots will meet your expectations. However the sound effects come off as just obnoxiously loud noise this film was ultimately such an unpleasant movie going experience.